U-Haul and Penske are two of the most popular ‘do-it-yourself’ moving truck rental companies. I wanted to figure out which truck rental company was better for long-distance moves, so I researched two different moving scenarios.
I compared cost, how many days each company allows you to complete your move and built-in (or cost of) extras like a dolly, moving blankets, etc.
We’re currently living in Atlanta, Georgia so I started each move from there.
Then I picked two different possible destinations. One far, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (775 miles away) and one really far, San Diego, California (2,165 miles away).
Finally, I went online and entered the trip details on each of the truck rental companies’ websites and took notes of what I found. These notes (a couple of hours’ worth of work) are what I’m sharing with you here.
Table of Contents
UHaul vs Penske: Price
I’m going to start this comparison by comparing straight costs between the two different moving truck rental companies, because let’s face it, for most of us this is going to be the ultimate factor in whether we choose U-Haul or Penske.
|U-Haul vs Penske – Cost of Truck from Atlanta to Philadelphia|
|Company||Truck Size||Inside Dimensions* LxWxH (Cubic Feet)||Recommended For||Ramp?||Cost|
|U-Haul||10′ Truck||9’11” x 6’4″ x 6’2″ (387 cu. ft)||Studio to 1 Bedroom||No||$1225**|
|U-Haul||15′ Truck||15′ x 7’8″ x 7’2″ (824 cu. ft)||1 Bed Home to 2 Bed Apt||Yes||$1290**|
|U-Haul||20′ Truck||19’6″ x 7’8″ x 7’2″ (1071 cu. ft)||2 Bed Home to 3 Bed Apt||Yes||$1418**|
|U-Haul||26′ Truck||26’2″ x 8’2″ x 8’3″ (1763 cu. ft)||3 Bed Home to 4 Bed Home||Yes||$1613**|
|Penske||12′ Truck||11’11” x 6’x6″ x 6’1″ (450 cu. ft)||1-2 Rooms||No||$1190***|
|Penske||16′ Truck||16′ x 7’8″ x 6’6″ (800 cu. ft)||2-3 Rooms||Yes||$1250***|
|Penske||22′ Truck||21’3″ x 7’8″ x 8’1″ (1200 cu. ft)||3-5 Rooms||Yes||$1408***|
|Penske||26′ Truck||25’11” x 8’1″ x 8’7″ (1700 cu. ft)||5-7 Rooms||Yes||$1408***|
Here are the prices for a second example move, this time we’re heading to San Diego from Atlanta.
|U-Haul vs Penske – Cost of Truck from Atlanta to San Diego|
|Company||Truck Size||Inside Dimensions* (LxWxH)||Recommended For||Ramp?||Cost|
|U-Haul||10′ Truck||9’11” x 6’4″ x 6’2″ (387 cu. ft)||Studio to 1 Bedroom||No||$1866**|
|U-Haul||15′ Truck||15′ x 7’8″ x 7’2″ (824 cu. ft)||1 Bed Home to 2 Bed Apt||Yes||$1964**|
|U-Haul||20′ Truck||19’6″ x 7’8″ x 7’2″ (1071 cu. ft)||2 Bed Home to 3 Bed Apt||Yes||$2160**|
|U-Haul||26′ Truck||26’2″ x 8’2″ x 8’3″ (1763 cu. ft)||3 Bed Home to 4 Bed Home||Yes||$2454**|
|Penske||12′ Truck||11’11” x 6’x6″ x 6’1″ (450 cu. ft)||1-2 Rooms||No||$1878***|
|Penske||16′ Truck||16′ x 7’8″ x 6’6″ (800 cu. ft)||2-3 Rooms||Yes||$1972***|
|Penske||22′ Truck||21’3″ x 7’8″ x 8’1″ (1200 cu. ft)||3-5 Rooms||Yes||$4158***|
|Penske||26′ Truck||25’11” x 8’1″ x 8’7″ (1700 cu. ft)||5-7 Rooms||Yes||$4158***|
*Getting the inside dimensions and total space of the moving trucks for comparison was way more complicated than I expected. U-Haul lists dimensions on their website and from that, I calculated the cubic feet.
Penske truck rental lists cubic feet so I reached out to them for dimensions. The issue was the dimensions I got from the first person I spoke to seemed way off when I did the math. So I reached out again.
This time I was initially given the same dimensions so it must be on a file somewhere. When I questioned the numbers, I was given new dimensions. These seemed closer but still don’t match up exactly. I guess what I’m saying is don’t quote me on the dimensions, but these were the best figures I could get.
**Cost was calculated on 7/3/22 for pickup date on 7/28/22 – Check U-Haul for Most Recent Prices
***Cost was calculated on 7/3/22 for pickup date on 7/28/22 – Check Penske for Most Recent Prices
Based on the prices I found between the two truck rental companies, it was pretty even across the board minus a few exceptions. Penske generally rents their 22′ and 26′ moving trucks for the same price. For the Philly move, this made the Penske 26′ truck a couple hundred dollars less than UHaul.
On the other hand, while the two smaller-sized trucks were relatively close on the San Diego trip, there was an enormous difference in the larger trucks. Penske’s two larger-sized trucks were almost double (about two thousand dollars) more than UHaul!
If this little experiment proves anything it’s that it is definitely worth getting multiple quotes when it comes to finding and selecting a moving truck rental company.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget when you’re budgeting that this doesn’t include the cost of gas. You can easily figure out the potential cost of your gas with our Moving Truck Gas Calculator which includes all the moving trucks from both Penske and UHaul.
What’s Included with the Truck Rental Cost
UHaul vs Penske: Mileage
One of Penske’s strongest selling points is that Unlimited Mileage is included with the cost of their truck rental. On the other hand, U-Haul’s cost includes a fixed amount of miles. In our example trip to Philadelphia, it was 918 miles. Any additional miles will cost you $0.40 per mile.
So, how much better is it to have Unlimited Miles?
In most cases, none. Atlanta to Philadelphia is 775 miles, which means U-Haul is giving you an additional 143 miles of leeway. This is more than enough to cover pick-up and drop-off, stopping for gas and/or hotels and even taking a wrong turn or two. For the San Diego trip, we were given about an extra 400 miles.
The only times you may go over that many extra miles is if you need to go a bit out of the way to make a second stop. Maybe you need to pick up some extra things along the way from a relative or storage unit.
If you have something ‘out of the way’ like this on your travel itinerary then it’s worth it to start calculating mileage. If not, you’ll have plenty of miles to use with either. So, while unlimited mileage sounds great, it’s not really necessary for most situations.
UHaul vs Penske: Days Allowed
Penske truck rental gives you an extra day to get all your stuff moved compared to U-Haul, at least for our example trip to Philadelphia.
Penske gave us 5 days to get the moving truck returned to our drop-off location while U-Haul only gave us 4. (Penske gave an extra day for the San Diego trip as well, 8 vs 7)
Are 4 days enough to get everything moved? Absolutely. But, that extra day can come in handy, especially if you encounter some inclement weather on your moving in or moving out day.
It’s always better to have an extra day and not need it, rather than need it and not have it. I would consider this a definite advantage for Penske.
UHaul vs Penkse: Moving Supplies
No supplies are automatically included in the price of a truck rental from either company, but they are available to add to your order when you set up the truck rental online. Here is the cost of accessory supplies from Penske and U-Haul:
|Furniture Pads||$10.00 / dozen||$15.00 / dozen|
|Small Moving Box||$1.35||N/A|
|Medium Moving Box||$1.85||N/A|
|Large Moving Box||$2.35||N/A|
|Flat Panel TV Box (up to 70″)||$23.99||N/A|
|Medium TV Box (up to 40″)||$15.95||N/A|
|Small Wardrobe Box||$13.95||N/A|
|Large Wardrobe Box||$16.95||N/A|
U-Haul truck rental offers pretty much everything you could possibly need for a move (and probably some things you hadn’t even thought of). In addition to everything on the above table, they also offer items like Mattress Bags, Stretch Plastic Wrap, Bubble Rolls and Packing Tape.
U-Haul’s pricing on their moving supplies is really good too. Their moving boxes are right on par with what you can expect to pay at a Lowe’s or Home Depot. Some items, like the TV Moving Boxes, are even cheaper than you’d find elsewhere.
Penske, on the other hand, has a very limited amount of supplies that you can pick up directly from them. A Hand Truck (Furniture Dolly) and Furniture Pads are the only two options that I was given when I was setting up my quote.
Price-wise, Penske was over double the price of U-Haul.
If you’re planning on including a dolly and furniture pads in your moving truck rental (and you should) then U-Haul has a big advantage here.
UHaul vs Penske: Damage Protection
Neither truck rental company includes damage protection free of charge, but it is available as an add-on service.
UHaul offers Safemove and Safemove Plus.
Safemove was an additional $75* and “Covers accident damage and theft of U-Haul trucks; accident damage to your belongings, and includes medical/life protection for you and your passenger. Up to $80,000 in potential benefits.”
Safemove Plus was an extra $119*. Plus includes everything in Safemove plus exclusion free coverage of any accidental damage to the UHaul truck and a million dollars in supplemental liability coverage.
Penske has four different additional coverage packages you can choose from. For the Philly trip, these were Basic, Standard, Value and Plus. Each tier included everything in the previous tier with one additional feature.
Basic was an added cost of $225 and covered Penske Equipment Damage. Standard added in Third-Party Damage & Injury Claims and cost $339.63.
Value also covers Cargo Accident Damage and cost $365.03. Finally, Plus also included Personal Accident Injury and was an additional $384.75 onto your truck rental.
*These prices were for the Philly trip and they can (and did in my case) change depending on the length of your trip.
UHaul vs Penske: Towing
If you need the ability to tow your personal vehicle along with your moving truck, both UHaul and Penske have options for you to do so.
UHaul has two options, the Tow Dolly and the Auto Transport.
The Tow Dolly locks in the front wheels onto the dolly and allows the back wheels to roll freely on the ground. The Auto Transport on the other hand holds the entire vehicle up off the ground. Which one you choose will depend somewhat on what kind of vehicle you have (some vehicles are not compatible with the Tow Dolly).
The Tow Dolly was an extra $106 added to the price of the moving truck and the Auto Transport was $213.
Penske offers essentially the same two options for towing your vehicle, just one of the names is different. They have the Tow Dolly and the Car Carrier. The Tow Dolly was an extra $119 and the Car Carrier was an additional $199.
UHaul vs Penske: Locations
U-Haul has over 21,000 locations compared to 2,500 for Penske. That’s obviously a huge difference between the two truck rental companies.
Why does this matter?
More locations generally mean more convenient pickup and drop-off locations. By having close to 10x more locations, it’s more likely that U-Haul will have a close and convenient location to your new (and old) home than will Penske.
Obviously, this isn’t a guarantee. I still recommend checking pickup and drop-off locations for your move. There’s nothing worse than completing an hours-long move and then having to drive another 45 minutes to drop off your truck rental when you’re completely wiped out.
Pro Tip: If you are willing to drive a bit out of the way for your drop-off, UHaul will often offer discounts to return your moving truck to specific locations.
Return (Drop Off)
On both of my fictitious moves, U-Haul offered a 24/7 return at the drop-off location. This is a HUGE convenience. I can’t tell you how many of our moves went late into the night before we finally got the moving truck emptied.
By comparison, Penske had time windows when the drop-off location was open. The available hours for some of these locations were a bit limited on the weekends. For example, our Philadelphia drop-off location closed at noon on Sunday.
We talked earlier about the benefit of Penske giving you an extra day to make your move. I’d still take the extra day, but being able to drop off 24/7 with U-Haul definitely closes that gap.
When it comes to long-distance moves, is U-Haul or Penske the best truck rental company?
After doing a full comparison between the two truck rental companies on two different hypothetical moves, it’s actually pretty close.
In terms of pure price, with the exception of the bigger Penske trucks to San Diego (the 22′ and 26′ Penske trucks were significantly more) both companies were very comparable.
When comparing days given to move and allowed mileage, Penske gets the edge. Penske allowed an extra day on both our moves and unlimited mileage
If you want a one-stop-shop for your rental truck and moving supplies, U-Haul is the winner. They offer everything you could possibly need for your move including the moving truck, dollies, boxes and more. I expected to be up-charged on supplies because of the convenience, but that’s not the case either. All U-Haul’s moving supplies are fairly priced.
Finally, U-Haul has more overall locations and 24/7 drop off which could make picking up and dropping off your truck closer and more convenient.
It really depends on what you value, but it’s close enough between the two that it’s definitely worth getting a quote from both and checking potential pick-up and drop-off locations for your particular move.
I’ll leave you with one final tip that I’ve used for a lot of our moves. Once you have the quote from both, give each a call and see if they’re willing to beat the other on price. This has saved me a good chunk of money every time I’ve done it.